Nutraceuticals For Cancer Disease

Nutraceuticals For Cancer Disease: Cancer has emerged as a major public health problem in developing countries. According to the World Cancer Report, the cancer rates are increasing and it would be 15 million new cases in the year 2020 that is, a rise of 50%. A healthy lifestyle and diet can help in the prevention of cancer. Carotenoids are a group of phytochemicals liable for different colors of foods. They have antioxidant activities and are effective in cancer prevention. Recent interest in carotenoids has focused on the role of lycopene in human health, especially in cancer disease.

Plants rich in daidzein, biochanin, isoflavones, and genistein, also inhibit prostate cancer cell growth. Because of the unsaturated nature of lycopene, and it is considered to be a potent antioxidant and a singlet oxygen quencher. Lycopene concentrates in the prostate, testes, skin, and adrenal where it protects against cancer. The linkage between carotenoids and the prevention of cancer and heightened the importance of vegetables and fruits in the human diet.

Flavonoids can protect against cancer by acting as antioxidants. Soy foods are a unique dietary source of isoflavones, the polyphenolic phytochemicals exemplified by epigallocatechin gallate from tea, curcumin from curry, and soy isoflavones possess cancer chemopreventive properties. Soybean seems to offer protection against breast, uterine, lung. colorectal, and prostate cancers. β-carotene is found in yellow, orange, and green leafy vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, lettuce, oranges, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, spinach, and winter squash have anticancer activity.

Saponins are reported to possess antimutagenic and antitumor activities and might lower the risk of human cancers, by preventing cancer cells from growing. Saponins are phytochemicals that can be found in peas, soybeans, and some herbs with names indicating foaming properties such as soapberry, soapwort, and soapbark. They are also present in tomatoes, potatoes, alfalfa, spinach, and clover. Commercial saponins are extracted mainly from Yucca schidigera and Quillajasaponaria

Tannins also scavenge harmful free radicals and detoxify carcinogens. Tannins are present in grapes. lentils, tea, blackberries, blueberries, and cranberries are proven anticarcinogens is used in alternative medicine and to prevent cancer. Ellagic acid is present in walnuts, pecans, strawberries. cranberries, pomegranates, and red raspberry seeds. It is an anticancer agent.

Pectin is a soluble fiber found in apples has been shown to prevent prostate cancer metastasis by inhibiting the cancer cells from adhering to other cells in the body. Naturally occurring phenolic acid derivatives are reported to possess potential anticancer properties. Phenolic compounds such as curcumin, gallic acids, ferulic, and caffeic acid are reported to possess anticancer activity.

Glucosinolates and their hydrolysis products, including indoles and isothiocyanates, and high intake of cruciferous vegetables have been associated with a lower risk of colorectal and lung cancer. Bio-transformation products of glucosinolates include dithiolthiones, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane. They block the enzymes that promote tumor growth, particularly in the liver, colon, lung, breast, stomach, and esophagus.

The sulfur compounds, in garlic, have been found to boost the immune system and reduce atherogenesis and platelet stickiness, and cancer. Sulforaphane rich in broccoli is a potent phase 2 enzyme inducer. It produces D-glucuronolactone, a significant inhibitor of breast cancer. Sulforaphane is an antioxidant and stimulator of natural detoxifying enzymes, Sulforaphane has been reported to reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.


Lycopene (from the neo-Latin Lycopersicum, the tomato species) is a bright red carotenoid hydrocarbon found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables, such as red carrots, watermelons, grapefruits, and papayas, but it is not present in strawberries or cherries Lycopene is a naturally occurring red carotenoid pigment that is responsible in red to pink colors seen in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and other foods. Having a chemical formula of C40H56 lycopene is a tetraterpene assembled from eight isoprene units that are solely composed of carbon and hydrogen.

Lycopene contained vegetables and fruits exert a cancer-protective effect via a decrease in oxidative stress and damage to DNA. Lycopene is one of the major carotenoids and is found exclusively in tomatoes, guava, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and papaya.


Beta carotene is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, especially carrots and colorful vegetables. The name beta carotene comes from the Greek “beta” and Latin “carota” (carrot). It is the yellow/orange pigment that gives vegetables and fruits their rich colors.

β-Carotene is an organic, strongly colored red-orange pigment abundant in fungi, plants, and fruits. It is a member of the carotenes, which are terpenoids (isoprenoids), synthesized biochemically from eight isoprene units and thus having 40 carbons.

It has antioxidant activity and prevents cancer and other diseases. Among the carotenes β – carotene has the most antioxidant activity. Alpha-carotene possesses 50-54% of the antioxidant activity of β-carotene, whereas epsilon carotene has 42-50% of the antioxidant activity.

Chronic inflammation is associated with high cancer risk. Chronic inflammation is also associated with immune suppression, which is a risk factor for cancer. Ginseng is an example of an anti-inflammatory molecule that targets many of the key players in the inflammation-to-cancer sequence.

Nowadays, phytochemicals with cancer-preventive properties have been on high attention. Chemopreventive components in fruits and vegetables, among other beneficial health effects, have potential anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic activities. A broad range of phytopharmaceuticals with a claimed hormonal activity, called “phytoestrogens,” is recommended for the prevention of prostate and breast cancers.


Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by Curcuma longa plants. It is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric (Curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae.

Turmeric contains 3-6% polyphenolic compounds, collectively known as curcuminoids, which is a mixture of curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Pure curcumin has more potent superoxide anion scavenging activity than demethoxycurcumin or bisdemethoxycurcumin.

Curcumin is a polyphenol derived from the plant Curcuma longa, commonly called turmeric, Curcumin has been reported to possess antioxidative, anticarcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Consumption of fruits and vegetables having cysteine, glutathione, selenium. Vitamin E Vitamin C. lycopene and various phytochemicals elevate the levels of antioxidative capacity. However, more investigations are needed to determine their beneficial effects in cancer prevention, pr treatment.

Large-scale clinical trials suggest that some agents such as green tea, Vitamins D and E, selenium, lycopene, soy, anti-inflammatory, and inhibitors of 5a-reductase are effective in preventing prostate cancer. Cancer was not prevented by β-carotene, N-acetylcysteine, a-tocopherol, retinol, retinyl palmitate, or isotretinoin in smokers. Ongoing trials may help define new avenues for chemoprevention.

Several studies have shown the values of alternative and complementary medicine as an adjuvant to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Complementary therapy may be reliable and useful supportive measure for prostate cancer patients. The majority of the studies have shown a preventive role for nutraceuticals in cancer, however, more elaborate studies are needed. It is suggested that the following considerations should be taken on the future use of nutraceuticals for disease prevention:

  • Synthesis of analogs, to further increase the efficacy of a promising nutraceutical. One can use it as a chemical template for combinatorial synthesis.
  • Identification of molecular targets. With the molecular targets of nutraceuticals being known it may be possible to develop more refined chemicals that specifically target those commonly shared sites.
  • Synergistic effect with the understanding of the molecular action of each nutraceutical, one can test possible synergistic effects on chemo-prevention by using two or more nutraceuticals or derivatives.
Make sure you also check our other amazing Article on : Nutraceuticals In Weight Control
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